Wife Of Bath Prologue - Quotes - Complete
Terms in this set (95)
Experience, though noon auctoritee
"I have experience but no written authority."
To speke of wo that is in mariage.
"To speak of the misery in marriage."
Housbondes at chirche dore I have had five.
I have been married five times/had five husbands.
Thou hast yhad five housbondes...And that ilke man that now hath thee Is noght thyn housbonde.
"You have had five husbands...and that same man that you have now is not your husband."
Jesus criticising the Samaritan woman/Jesus only went to one wedding - proof that one should only marry once.
What that he mente therby, I kan nat seyn.
"What he meant by that I cannot say."
In reference to Jesus and the Samaritan woman.
God bad for us to wexe and multiplie
"God sent us to go forth and multiply."
"To be refreshed half so ofte as he!
"To have sex half as often as he did!"
Innuendo in reference to Solomon, who allegedly had 700 wives and 300 mistresses.
Welcome the sixte, whan that evere he shal.
"Welcome the sixth, whenever he shall come about."
I wol nat kepe me chaast in al.
"I will not remain celibate."
That hye God defended mariage By expres word?
"That holy God banned marriage/Where did God ban marriage?"
He nath nat every vessel al of gold; Somme been of tree, and doon hir lord servise.
Golden & wooden vessels metaphor.
"Not all of his vessels are made of gold; some are made of wood but they still do him service."
Every person has their different roles in life and can do service to God in different ways.
He spak to hem that wolde live parfitly; And lordinges, by youre leve, that am nat I.
"He was speaking to those who would/could live perfectly; and gentlemen, I am not."
Revels in her imperfections rather than trying to change/fix them.
to what conclusion Were membres maad of generacion...?
"For what purpose were we given genitals...?"
Argument against chastity.
That man shal yelde to his wyf hire dette?
"That man should pay his wife her debt?"
Use of monetary/financial lexis in reference to marriage.
Lat hem be breed of pured whete-seed, And lat us wives hoten barly-breed
"Let them be of pure white seed, And let us wives be called (hoten) barley bread"
In wyfhod I wol use myn instrument As frely as my Makere hath it sent.
"In marriage I shall use my sexuality (?) As my Maker had sent it."
Her form of worshipping God. Also example of her use of innuendo.
Brief Context: Lives revolved around God, the Church and their beliefs.
Myn housbonde shal it have bothe eve and morwe
"My husband shall have it both evening and morning"
Sexual reference. She'll use her sexuality whenever he (or she) wants it.
What that him list come forth and paye his dette.
"When he comes forward and pays his debt."
Links to "Myn housbonde shal it have bothe eve and morwe"
Financial/monetary lexis towards marriage.
An housbonde I wol have, I wol nat lette, Which shal be bothe my dettour and my thral.
"I will not abstain/let up on any husband I have, Who shall be both my debtor and my slave."
Control and power over her husbands. Financial/monetary lexis in reference to marriage.
I have the power duringe al my lyf Upon his propre body
"I will have power over his body for my entire life"
Power and control over her husbands.
Right thus the Apostel tolde it unto me; And bad oure housbondes for to love us weel.
"Right thus the Apostle (St Paul) told me; And commanded our husbands to love us."
Use of religious references to support her arguments. (Note: she left out the fact that St Paul also wrote that women owe their husbands a debt of honour.)
Example of her strong, forceful language (use of strong imperatives) and her attitude towards men in general.
Also, reminder that she's speaking to an audience.
myn entente is nat but for to pleye
"My intention is only to play/joke" a.k.a. I'm only kidding.
Is she genuine? Her topic matters are not light hearted, jokey ones.
tho housbondes that I hadde, As thre of hem were goode, and two were badde.
"Of the husbands that I have had, three of them were good and two were bad."
Introduction to her five husbands. Presents them as transactions rather than marriages. Financial/monetary lexis.
They had me yeven hir lond and hir tresoor; Me neded nat do lenger diligence
"They gave me their land and their treasure; So I no longer needed to be kind to them"
Boasting about her mistreatment of her husbands. Presents her husbands as customers/clients/transactions. Financial/monetary lexis.
CONTEXT: However, her treatment of her husbands could be justified by the misogynistic, patriarchal society she lives in.
ther no man Swere and lyen, as a womman kan.
"There's no man can Swear and lie as a woman can."
Boasts about women's deceitfulness. Conforming to the misogynistic stereotypes.
CONTEXT: What was Chaucer's purpose in creating the wife? To fight against the stereotype of to portray her as another "wikked wyf"?
For as a spaynel she wol on him lepe, Til that she finde som man hire to chepe.
"Just like a spaniel, she jump on any man she can."
Spaniel analogy. Men say that if a woman is ugly then she is desperate.
Thou seist that dropping houses, and eek smoke, And chiding wives maken men to flee Out of his owene hous
"You say that collapsing rooves, and smoke (fire), And nagging wives make men flee Their own homes"
Men's complaints about women.
Thow seist we wives wol oure vices hide Til we be fast, and thanne we wol hem shewe
"You say that us wives hide our vices Until we're married, and then we let them show"
Men's complaints about women.
that be a proverbe of a shrewe!
"That's a shrew's proverb!"
Animal imagery in reference to the husbands/men.
Thou seist that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes, They been assayed at diverse stoundes...But folk of wives maken noon assay, Til they be wedded...And thanne, seistow, we wol oure vices shewe.
"You say that oxen, asses, horses and hounds Have been assessed to various levels...But people do no make any assessment of wives Until they are married....And then, you say, we show our vices."
Men's complaints about women. Animal imagery.
For his crispe heer, shininge as gold so fyn
"His curly hair, shining like fine gold"
Lodger Janekin, with whom the wife is accused of cheating with by her husband. Describes his hair as being "like gold" - financial/monetary lexis.
I wol him noght, thogh thou were deed tomorwe!
"I wouldn't want him, even if you were dead tomorrow!"
Possible irony if he is the same Janekin that she later marries.
I trowe thou woldest loke me in thy chiste!
"I believe that you would lock me in your chest!"
Her husband wants to lock her away from other men in his safe.
Thou sholdest seye, 'Wyf, go wher thee liste; Taak youre disport, I wol nat leve no talis.
"You should say, 'Wife, go wherever you like, Enjoy yourself, I will not gossip?"
What she wants from her husbands; freedom and control.
The wise astrologien Daun Ptholome, That seith this proverbe in his Almageste: 'Of all men his wisdom is the hyeste, That rekketh nevere who hath the world in honde'
"The wise astrologer/philosopher Dan Ptolemy said this proverb in his Almagest: 'The wisest man in the world is the one who doesn't care who's in charge."
Have thou ynogh, what thar thee recche or care How mirily that othere folkes fare?
"If you have enough, why do you care About what others have?"
Her teaching from Ptolemy's proverb.
He is to greet a niggard wol werne A man to light his candle at his lantern; He shal have never the lasse light, pardee; Have thou ynogh, thee thar nat pleyne thee.
"You're a miserable man if you forbid Other men from lighting their candle at your lantern. He'll never have the last light;If you have enough, don't deny others."
Candle metaphor from Ptolemy's proverb
Original meaning: if you have enough, don't envy others.
WoB's twisted it to justify promiscuity.
For who so senge a cattes skin, Thanne wolde the cat wel dwellen in his in; And if the cattes skin be slyk and gay, She wol nat dwellen in house half a day
"If you singe a cat's fur/skin, The cat will stay indoors; And if the cat has sleek and beautiful fur/skin, She would not stay in the house for half a day"
The husbands said she was like a cat and they wouldn't get her beautiful clothes because they believed that if they did, she would go out and show them off to other men.
Animal imagery in reference to herself.
Baar I stifly mine olde housbondes on honde.
"I deceived/controlled my old husbands."
Boasting about her deception. Power and control.
And al was fals, but that I took witnesse
"And it was all false, but I got witnesses"
Almost teaching the female pilgrims how to deceive their husbands.
I koude pleyne, and yit was in the gilt
"I could moan/complain and yet I was the guilty one."
Her tactics for controlling her husbands.
Whoso that first to mille comth, first grint.
"He who gets to the mill first, grinds first." a.k.a. The early bird gets the worm.
Of wenches wolde I beren hem on honde
"I would manipulate him about women"
Tactics to gain control and power.
Deceite, weping, spinning God hath yive To wommen kindely, whil that they may live.
"God gave women the abilities of deceit, weeping and lying to help them survive."
Tactics to gain control and power.
Conforming to the stereotype.
I wolde no lenger in the bed abide...Til he had maad his raunson unto me
"I would no longer stay in the bed...until he paid me his ransom"
Withholds sex for money/power.
With empty hand men may none haukes lure
"Men can't lure a hawk with an empty hand."
You can't get something for nothing/without offering something.
e.g. She lured her husbands with her looks, then with her money.
make me a feyned appetit; And yet in bacon hadde I nevere delit
"made me fake an appetite; And yet I never enjoyed bacon"
She faked her interest in the older husbands.
Com neer, my spouse, lat me ba thy cheke!
"Come near, my spouse, let me kiss your cheek!"
Loving talk. Changing back and forward between cold and unloving to overly affectionate to control her husbands.
Oon of us moste bowen
"One of us must bow" or "One of us must give in."
Normally it would be the women who would have to give in, but she makes the husbands do this.
My fourthe housbonde was a revelour...he hadde a paramour
"My fourth husband was a revelour...he had a paramour"
Background into her fourth husband, presents him in a negative light from the very beginning.
A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tail.
A lustful mouth must have a lustful tail."
Sex follows lust.
I have had my world as in my time.
"I've had the world in my time."
Nostalgia but also acceptance for her lost youth.
The flour is goon, ther is namoore to tell; The bren, as I best kan, now moste I selle."
"The flour is gone, there is no more to tell, The bread, as I best can, I now mostly sell."
Her virginity is gone and now she uses her experience with men.
how soore I him twiste.
"How sore I twisted them." or "How much I made them suffer."
She caused the "wo in marriage" to gain control and power.
It nis but wast to burye him preciously.
"It was nothing but a waste to bury him well."
She didn't waste any money in burying her fourth husband, she didn't think he was worth it.
I holde a mouses herte nat worth a leek That hath but oon hole for to sterte to, And if that faille, thane is al ydo.
"I hold a mouse's heart to be worth nothing If he has only one hole to run to, And if that fails, than is all is done."
Justifying her keeping her options open in terms of flirting with Janekin whilst still being married to her fourth husband.
My fifthe housbonde, God his soule blesse! Which that I took for love, and no richesse.
"My fifth husband, God bless his soul! That I took for love and not for money."
Introduction to Janekin and demonstrates her wealth and higher economic standing. Normally, women would not marry for love, but instead for wealth. She does not have to do this as she has all the money she needs from her past husbands.
I hadde the bettre leyser for to pleye.
"I had the better opportunity to play"
Whilst her husband was away in London, she had the opportunity to flirt with Janekin, opening up her options and demonstrating her lack of love for her fourth husband.
If I were widwe, sholde he wedde me.
"If I were widowed, he should marry me."
Opening up her options and her true love for Janekin.
I mette of him al night: He wolde han slain me as I lay upright, And al my bed was ful of verray blood, But yet I hope that he shal do me good; For blood bitokeneth gold, as me was taught. And al was fals, I dremed of it right naught.
"I met him at night; He slayed me as I lay upright, And all my bed was full of veritable blood, But yet I hope he does he shall do me good, As blood symbolises gold, as I was taught, And it was all false, I did not truly dream of it."
Her lying and manipulation to gain the interest and affection of Janekin.
But now, sire, lat me se, what I shal seyn? A ha! by God, I have my tale ageyn.
"But now, sir, let me see, what shall I say? Aha! by God, I have my tale again."
Reminder that it's not a speech or a written piece, but her spontaneously speaking to the pilgrims.
Of legges and of feet so clene and faire That al myn herte I yaf unto his hold.
"Of legs and feet so clean and fair, That all my heart I gave him to hold."
The Wife's attraction to Janekin at her fourth husband's funeral.
I hadde alwey a coltes tooth.
"I always had a colts tooth." or "I was always a frisky one."
She recognises and is proud of her "flaws" (for the time period).
I am al Venerien In feelinge, and myn herte is Marcien.
"I am all Venerien In feelings and my heart is Marcien."
References to astrology, which she uses as an explanation/reason for her behaviour.
Venus me yaf my lust, my likerousnesse, And Mars yaf me my sturdy hardinesse
"Venus gave my lust, my lustfulness, And Mars gave me my sturdy boldness"
Uses astrology to explain her personality, demonstrates her belief in astrology.
that evere love was sinne!
"that ever love was a sin!"
Is this genuine? Possible reference to the Bible.
Stibourn I was as is a leonesse
"I was as stubborn as a lioness"
Definition of her character and animal imagery.
Man shal nat suffer his wyf go roule aboute
"Man shall not suffer his wife go wandering about"
Misogynistic beliefs, women granted no freedom in medieval society as they believed they would cheat if they went "wandering about".
And walke I wolde, as I had doon biforn, From hous to hous, although he had it sworn.
"And I would walk, as I had done before, From house to house, even though he had forbidden it."
She did what she wanted, regardless of Janekin's disapproval/rules.
Demonstration of her disregard for her husbands and their 'authority'.
"Whoso that buildeth his hous al of salwes, And priketh his blinde hors over the falwes, And suffreth his wyf to go seken halwes, Is worthy to been hanged on the galwes!"
"Whoever builds his house from willow branches/wood, And leads his blind horse over the fallow ground (poor ground), And suffers his wife to go seeking shrines (on pilgrimages), Is worthy to be hanged on the gallows!"
Misogynistic beliefs that men should treat their women in the same way that they maintain their horses and their households, reducing women to possessions and denying them freedom.
I hate him that my vices telleth me.
"I hate him that tells me my vices."
She is more than happy to accept her own flaws or to ignore them, but she will not accept society/men telling her what her flaws are or what the flaws of women are.
To reden on this book of wikked wives.
"To read this book of wicked wives."
Janekin's habit of reading misogynistic literature.
it is an impossible That any clerk wol speke good of wives But if it be of holy seintes lyves.
"It's impossible that any clerk will speak well of wives But/Unless they are holy saints."
CONTEXT: There were no positive presentations of women, unless they were holy women and saints, in literature as the clerks were the ones who wrote the books and they were completely misogynistic, following their religious beliefs that women should remain chaste.
Who peyntede the leoun, tel me who?
"Who painted the lion, tell me who?"
if wommen hadde written stories...They wolde han writen of men more wikkednesse Than al the mark of Adam may redresse.
"if woman had written the books...They would have written of men more wickedness That all the mark/sons? of Adam may amend."
If women had written the books, the medieval public would have had a more complete picture and both genders views on each other; men would not be portrayed as so noble and great if they included women's viewpoints on them. Men would have been portrayed in negatively, just as women were
he knew of mo proverbs Than in this world ther growen gras or herbes.
"he knew of more proverbs That grass and herbs that grow in this world."
The extent of the misogynistic beliefs in medieval society.
'Bet is', quod he, 'thyn habitacioun Be with a leoun or a foul dragon Than with a womman usinge for to chyde.'
"'It's better' said he, 'your home Be with a lion or a foul dragon Than with a woman used to nagging'"
Misogynistic beliefs than woman are worse than dangerous animals.
'Bet is', quod he, 'hye in the roof abyde Than with an angry wyf doun in the hous, They been so wikked and contrarious; That haten that hir housbondes loveth ay.'
"'It's better', said he, 'to stay high up in the roof Than with an angry wife down in the house, They are so wicked and contrary; That they always hate what their husbands love.'"
Misogynistic beliefs that women purposefully try to disagree with their husbands and cause tension.
A fair womman, but she be chasst also, Is lyk a gold ring in a sowed nose.
"A beautiful woman, who is also chaste, Is like a gold ring in a sow's nose."
Misogynistic beliefs. Animal imagery.
thre leves had I plight Out of his book
"three pages I plucked out of his book"
Physical act against Janekin and misogyny in general.
I with my fest so took him on the cheke That in oure fyr he fil bakward adoun.
"I punched him so hard on the cheek That he fell backwards into our fire."
Physical act against Janekin and misogyny in general.
Shows her strength.
up stirte as dooth a wood leoun
"jumped up like a mad lion"
Animal imagery, violent/aggressive imagery.
"O, hastow slain me, false theef?"
"Oh, have you slain, fake thief?"
She accuses her husband of murdering her, to manipulate him.
She also accuses him of being a thief, showing that she has the higher financial position in the marriage.
Er I be deed, yet wol I kisse thee."
"If I be dead, yet I would kiss you.""
Using affection to manipulate him.
He yaf me al the bridel in myn hond, To han the governance of hous and lond.
"He gave me all the bridle in my hand, To have the control of household and land."
Janekin gave all the power in the marriage to the Wife; she became the 'winner' of their 'marriage war'.
And of his tong, and of his hond also
"And of his tongue and of his hand also"
He gave her control of what he said and his behaviour. Control and power.
And made him brenne his book anon right tho.
"And made him burn his book straightaway."
Destruction of misogynistic literature, control and power over husband, confronting society.
And whan that I hadde geten unto me, By maistrie, al the soverainetee.
"And when I had obtained, By mastery, all the supremacy."
She gained all power and control over her husband, through manipulation, deception and mastery.
Do as thee lust the terme of al thy lyf
"Do as you wish for the whole of your life"
Her husband gives her the power to do whatever she wants. Control and power.
Keep thyn honour, and keep eek myn estaat
"Keep your honour/respect and keep my reputation/social standing aswell."
Their agreement; she can do whatever she wants and keep her honour provided she does not harm his reputation.
After that day we hadden never debaat.
"After that day, we never fought again."
The resolution of the Wife and Janekin's problems, the Wife winning all power and control.
I was to him as kinde...And also trewe, and so was he to me.
"I was to him as kind... And also true, and so was he to me."
Fairytale ending, possibly hinting at the genre of her tale.
I prey to God that sit in magestee, So blesse his soule, for his mercy deere.
"I pray to God that sits in majesty, So bless his soul, for his dear mercy."
Demonstration of her love for Janekin and clarifies that he is dead. Reminder of religious beliefs.
This is a long preamble of a tale!
"This is a long prologue for a tale!"
The Friar's interruption, reminder of the fictional audience.